Language-in-Education Policies as a Conceptual Framework envisions and allows the possibilities inherent and embedded in flexible language-in-education policy theories and approaches; some of which address the systemic forces that influence language ecologies, and others at the classroom level. A range of choices and models are available that have been fully theorized in the last few decades, although mostly ignored in official policy. Nevertheless some are in use here and there, not always fully implemented and not without struggles, nevertheless as sites to learn from. These include mother tongue instruction (See Papua New Guinea), multilingual education, Deep Education, community models, or cross-cultural literacy including Indigenous knowledge and practices. Together these can contribute to peace at the individual, local, national, and even international level.
Language wars create situations that lead to linguistic genocides. Schooling is largely responsible for this phenomenon when children are educated from their early age in a language and culture that are not the language and culture of their home. Their native language and culture are undermined, loose status and, as demonstrated Skutnabb-Kangas (2000), students are forcibly transferred to the other group. English is not the only language to cause such educational conflicts and human disasters. Nonetheless what is proper to English is that it has become the vehicle of neoliberal ideology, an ideology that has been enforced by international institutions and has been the cause of systematic impoverishment of Third-World countries (Escobar, 1995), creating a ‘planet of slums’ (Davis, 2006). Responsible citizenship implies that students be taught to respect and value other languages and cultures, and how to communicate in other languages across cultures. Like multicultural education, multilingual education is closely related to an education for peace. “Peace-linguistics” can contribute to reduce and prevent xenophobic tendencies, “reconcile local and regional intercultural differences, and equip individuals with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes to respond to these in a peaceful and constructive way” (Meier, 2005, p.3). Multilingualism must be part of the normative principles such as non-violence, linguistic human rights, social justice, etc.) that inform peace education (Tochon, 2009). It goes along with the development of agency to empower learners to become active in the larger society.
At the individual and local level, Linguistic Human Rights and language as a resource (Ruiz, 1984) sit at the center of these possibilities through the realities of school achievement or discrimination, political voices and economic rights or their lack, identity and human dignity issues, livelihood and land and resource management. These bring personal and societal levels of peace through the way language shapes perceptions and enables access to community or dominant institutions and decision-making. The same factors apply even at the national levels, as language through education or its lack is often used in national frameworks for issues related to the problems and paradoxes of multiculturalism.
Globally the schooling situation, detailed in Formal Schooling and Construction of Knowledge, despite claims to uphold cultural diversity, impairs the recognition that world languages and cultures have their own visions of education through standards and testing, and inequalities. Such recognitions would allow intercultural learning and mutual respect, rather than ‘othering’ and discourses of benevolence and superiority. Such learning and respect would entail sharing, and could lessen the grips of these forces.
At the world level, at risk of appearing utopic or trite, language-in-education policies could contribute to world peace through the withdrawal of violence through war. World political events have been shaped and presented around an agenda of demonizing an enemy. War has become institutionalized for powerful transnational elites, the global war on terror, a powerful military/weapons manufacturing industry, and through discourses that naturalize it. Schooling inequalities and the lack of state structures for employment and other social rights increasingly have made the military a professional choice or a solution to keep the populace in fear.
Unlike what David Korten in The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community (2008) remarks, that in the absence of changes, this generation will have to reinvent everything (2008), Indigenous cosmology plans for the next seven generations. Perhaps if one generation of children could be educated in one of the options in the first paragraph, the next generation would find a better world.
See book project, HERE. See 2014 Conference HERE.